It’s nice having Joseph Finder back after too long of an absence. The acclaimed author of the Nick Heller series, as well as stand-alone works such as POWER PLAY and COMPANY MAN, comes roaring back with his most fully realized work to date.
A good deal of SUSPICION is set in Finder’s familiar Boston environs and is just one element that infuses the book with a ring of truth that resonates throughout the story. We may not all be bestselling authors of a historical work like Danny Goodman. Many of us, though, have experienced life in a slow-motion collapse as Danny does at the commencement of the novel. Danny is the single father to teenager Abby, who attends Lyman, an upscale private school for girls that Danny, the driver of a 1997 Honda Accord (and not by choice), really cannot afford, let alone the cost of the school trip to Italy that she just has to be a part of.
"Wonderfully paced and imaginatively plotted, this is the perfect book to reintroduce Finder to his legion of fans and entice new ones."
That’s not Danny’s only worry. His second book is over a year late to what may be his soon-to-be ex-publisher. And, of course, he is struggling to meet his monthly credit card payments. Reality smacks Danny up close and personal when he gets a letter from Lyman, giving him just a few days to either catch up on his five-figure, past-due tuition debt or find another school for Abby.
Fortunately for Danny, a guardian angel suddenly appears in the form of Thomas Galvin, the father of Jenna, Abby’s best friend at Lyman. Galvin, who has more money than God, is the head of an extremely successful investment company. He seemingly has it all, from a home that approaches the size of the block where Danny lives, to a limousine and a driver to go with it, not to mention a box of cigars that costs more than the amount of Danny’s last book advance. Jenna is a bit of a problem child, and from Galvin’s viewpoint, Abby, the first and only friend Jenna has made at any school, is all that is keeping Jenna from adding Lyman to the long list of schools from which she has been asked to leave.
Danny and Galvin quickly form a bond of sorts; despite the chasm between their respective incomes, both have very similar working class backgrounds and played on the same sidewalks. Consequently, Galvin gives Danny a no-term loan that solves all of his problems and then some. It’s almost as if Galvin has waved a magic wand over Danny’s life: tuition gets caught up, the trip to Italy is a go, and Danny even has money left over to get the collection agencies off his back.
However, within a day or so, Danny’s life is turned upside down. A couple of no-nonsense good-cop/bad-cop guys inform Danny that Galvin is working with a Mexican drug cartel and is the target of a DEA investigation. Since Danny has just accepted a large amount of money from Galvin, he is now a DEA target as well. Danny is told that his only way out is to rat on his new friend and benefactor by doing such things as planting a bug in Galvin’s home or stealing data off of his cell phone. Danny is appalled at what he’s being asked to do, but feels that he really doesn’t have a choice. If he fails to cooperate with the DEA, he’ll go to jail and his daughter will be all alone.
Danny goes along with increasingly difficult --- and more dangerous --- requests, until he discovers that the truth is much more complicated than he had previously imagined. Taking inspiration from the subject of his second and unfinished book, Danny devises an ingenious and very risky plan to extricate himself, even as he finds that he, Abby and Galvin are caught between opposing forces.
SUSPICION is a tale of revenge, greed and redemption, and deals with devils from within and without. The implicit question of “What would you do?” resonates on and off the page, and echoes hauntingly well after the last line is read. Wonderfully paced and imaginatively plotted, this is the perfect book to reintroduce Finder to his legion of fans and entice new ones.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 30, 2014